The Bulls Wednesday suffered another excruciating loss, their third by two points or fewer in their last four, 98-96 to the Indiana Pacers.
The Bulls lost their 10th consecutive game after having a 16-point fourth quarter lead. The Pacers first lead of the game was on a Victor Oladipo three with 30 seconds left in the game. Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen then missed jumpers to spoil a mostly excellent Bulls defensive effort. The Bulls dropped to 3-20. The Pacers are 14-11.
The Bulls had six players in double figures led by Dunn with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists. Robin Lopez had 16 points, Denzel Valentine had 15, Bobby Portis hd 12 and Lauri Markkanen and David Nwaba had 11.
The Bulls missed eight of 16 free throws and had just one field goal in the last seven minutes.
Nikola Mirotic was on the two-game trip for the first time this season, but didn't play in Indianapolis. He could play in Charlotte Friday. Zach LaVine stayed behind to continue practices with the Windy City Bulls. LaVine likely will not return until at least January. Coach Fred Hoiberg said initially he will be limited to under 20 minutes playing time. LaVine said he continues to also increase his conditioning with the recovery from February knee surgery. It would be at least 11 months after surgery before LaVine returns to play, if then. LaVine said he believes he is progressing quickly. Kay Felder and Antonio Blakeney went to the G-league to play for Windy City for their game Wednesday. Blakeney had 46 points. And the Bulls went inside with effective play from Lopez and Dunn that got the Bulls off fast to a 13-4 lead and then 30-20 after one quarter. Valentine supported them with three-point shooting as the Bulls also were active defensively. The Bulls continued into the second quarter, pushing their lead up to 43-26 after threes from Paul Zipser and Valentine. Then going back inside to Lopez and with Dunn's aggressive play the Bulls lead 55-39 at halftime. Lopez and Valentine each had a dozen in the half as the Bulls were seven of 15 on threes and Dunn had six first half assists.
The Pacers made a run to start the third quarter to get within nine with just over four minutes left in the quarter. But coming out of a timeout, the Bulls got a driving score from Nwaba and his aggression and relentless play drove the Bulls on a 12-7 close to the quarter to give the Bulls an 83-69 lead after three. In that stretch, Dunn added a pair of pull up jumpers after drives for 16 points after three quarters. The Bulls were shooting 52.3 percent through three quarters with a 37-26 edge on the boards and 36-18 inside. Nwaba continued to hustle the Bulls into scores as they retained an 89-74 lead with under nine minutes left in the game. But the Bulls began to revert to more isolation against increased Pacers defense as Indiana closed within 92-83 with 5:29 left.